Keep on dreaming
"Dreams are for children! I 'm too busy for that kind of nonsense," are two reasons people give for refusing to admit they dream. Dreams are truly the stuff that life is made of. Without dreams one has little motivation to go on. I think of them as hope.
Parents and caretakers are noted for grounding children. Privileges or something bringing them joy is taken away. Often what is used to penalize youth is to deprive them of a dream. Those dreams can be going to a party, finally owning a cell phone or playing Xbox. Whatever it is, grounding children and taking away privileges is acceptable if it is kept within limits. Children interpret time in a much more extended format than do adults. Taking away a game or a trip to the movies for an inappropriate amount of time is unnecessary. You can easily squash the dreams or spirit of someone if he cannot realize an end to the consequence he's been given. To the very young, particularly, one week is like a month. When anyone sees no end to his retribution he tends to give up. When you reprimand a child or teenager, use reason. A little goes a long way.
Everybody needs to continue dreaming, their whole lives. When you look forward to a reward you've been craving or attain a goal, you cling to that dream no matter how long it takes, but when it's reached you need to dream all over again.
You need to help others to dream. While you're talking with another person, be careful to say or do nothing to deflate him. Everybody must keep a goal in mind. It can be a pleasant upcoming event, an improvement in their health, a visit from a loved one or paying off your home. When children are experiencing problems learning in school, rather than diminish their self-image by criticism, congratulate the progress they are making.
Teachers can have a huge affect on a student's desire to continue to learn. A young boy, Tom, enjoys his teacher. She's an avid asset to him in the classroom. Although his grades aren't the best, if he studies enough he can accomplish the lessons. However, Tom refuses to always do his best. Some days are good and Tom is relaxed and performs well but other times he exerts little effort. Nevertheless, his teacher, Mrs. Bell, stands beside him. When he makes progress she writes encouraging notes. He notices her support. Sometimes when he completes homework with me, he will say, "Why don't you say a thing like, that's great, not just that's good?" Mrs. Bell prods him on by using such phrases as "Great job, keep up the good work" and "you can do it." This positive enforcement causes Tom to continue dreaming. He dreams he can accomplish what he must. With constant cheering, he's able to meet his goals.
Dreams aren't merely pie-in-the-sky pictures you see in your mind or a desire or an end found in the distant future. No, dreams are what propel you forward. Just as food nourishes our bodies, dreams sustain our spirits.
Dreams keep our hearts merry. Hopelessness or dreamlessness causes our spirits to wither. Dreams, hopes and positive outlooks are extremely crucial to people's well-being. Scripture assures people that pleasant dreams are of the utmost importance. "A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but sorrow dries the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
When you feel that life has no purpose for you, no one likes you, or you're a failure, always reach out for a dream. A dream can be as elaborate as a college degree or a new home, or it can be as simple as meeting a friend for lunch, thinking about your spring garden or taking a drive. So do dream your whole life. Keep it up -- and then help others to dream, too.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.